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       Death to the Beast

 

 

 

                           Click for music.  Player will open on separate page.              

           Celebrating 400 Years of Anglicanism in America at the Old Jamestown Church

Tuesday
Jun302015

Stop Whining, Dammit, and Gird Up Your Loins Like a Man

Over at Facebook I've argued that Obergefell is certain to have a deleterious effect on religious liberty here in the States, as it will provide more leverage for the type of thing we've seen in the disenfranchisement of Christian florists, bakers and photographers.   A number of articles like this one speculate on what kind of trouble we may be facing.  The LGBT activists responsible betray the mentality of  "liberal" fascism Jim Kalb describes in the article linked below.  (And pardon me for sounding like a broken record with regard to that article, but it needs to go viral in conservative and libertarian communities.)

That being said, I am increasingly annoyed by all the hand wringing of traditional Christians here in the States, both Evangelical and Catholic, as they express the worry that all this is the prelude to the Great Tribulation mentioned in the Bible.  I have a simple message for these my brethren:

Cowboy the #&*@ up.

First of all, don't you realize how many times Christians throughout have erroneously concluded that they were in such a time?  It is folly to obsess over or proceed on the basis of biblical texts that may or may not apply to our situation.

Secondly, if those texts apply to anyone, it is to the Christians in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere who are literally being "beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God," not us.  Compared to what they're going through, anything that will happen to us as a result of Obergefell will be a minor annoyance.

Thirdly, to the decreasing number of dispensationalists: jettison your false eschatology, and you'll feel much better.

Fourthly, if we really knew that these ARE the last days before the Parousia, we should be giddy with joy, not angst-ridden, for our redemption draweth nigh.

Lastly, understand that here in the United States, the oppression of religion is forbidden by the fundamental law of the land, and any attempt of the haters to excise or render impotent that law by would result in a civil war that they would lose, as millions of armed Americans would rise up and do to them what the Romanians did to Nicolae Ceaușescu.  Therefore, since they only can push the envelope legally against religious liberty, we will rely on organizations such as The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and The Alliance Defending Freedom to sue them blue, on state and federal legislatures to enact corrective legislation, and, failing all that, only then on the time-honored American and Christian tradition of civil disobedience -- in both its passive and active forms.

Concerning the latter form, as Richard John Neuhaus opined in the 1996 First Things symposium on the judicial usurpation of politics, in the United States "morally justified revolution" is always on the table as a means to put tyranny down, though it is always the last resort.  To hear conservative American Christians talk these days, you'd think they have no clue whatsoever about the fact that Christians took up arms in American War for Independence, in the War of the Vendee against French leftists, in the war of the Russian White Army against the Bolsheviks, in the Romanian Revolution against the brutal communist  Nicolae Ceaușescu, or that they threw off the yoke of Muslim tyranny by force of arms in Greece, Cyprus, the Balkans, and most recently South Sudan.  You'd think they are clueless about the long history of Christian resistance theory and practice, which stretches back to St. Augustine's dictum, "Lex iniusta non est lex" and came to fruition in the writings of such theologians as Thomas Aquinas, John of Salisbury, Manegold of Lautenbach, and John Calvin.  When the noted Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer became involved in the plot to assassinate Hitler, he was relying on this body of thought, especially as it was expressed in the Lutheran document "Magdeburg Bekenntnis."   So, for the life of me, I can't understand why so many contemporary conservative believers talk like the ONLY response to persecution is to grin and bear it.  Yes, many Christians have taken and will take the path of martyrdom, but that is not the only legitimate action to take.  As American Christians, we would be "morally (and theologically) justified" in taking the other course of action.

All of this is why we can "stop worrying and learn to love Obergefell."   I for one relish the fight that's coming with Kalb's "liberal state", because today's Left is a lot more pusillanimous than its historical and contemporary cousins. As he says in the final paragraph of his article:

In the end, the liberal state is not principled, and nothing built into liberalism limits how far it can go. Nonetheless, it’s enduringly squeamish. It will use the final measure of force only against weak opponents whom everyone that matters has agreed to hold in contempt. Groups and institutions that stand firm, present their views forcefully and confidently, and keep on going in the face of abuse—who preach the word in all settings, in season and out of season—will prevail. That’s something Catholics, among others, need to remember. How bad things get—and they could get very, very bad—is up to us.

I say, bring it.

Jim Kalb: How Bad Will Things Get?

Thursday
Jun112015

Is Anglicanism Catholic or Reformed?

The answer is yes.  A great article from fellow blogger Canon Greg Goebel writing at The Anglican Pastor.

On a related note, my readers know how much time and space I've devoted to the proposition that Anglicanism is a Protestant church.  I have given hints, however, that, following much of Anglican divinity, it is exceedingly important to claim our Catholic nature as well.  My readers know how fond I am of this quote from blogger Death Bredon:

The genius of the Protestant Reformation is the recognition that, during the Middle Ages, "ecclesial creep" in both the Western and Eastern portions of the Church had for all practical intents and purposes replaced Old-Law works righteousness with a new works righteousness based on the respective "New Law" of the West (the Penance-Merits-Purgation-Indulgences doctrinal phalanx) and of the East (the imposition of the Monastic Typicon upon the laity).

Furthermore, . . . the formularies of classical Anglicanism did a better job of retaining the wheat of the orthodox catholicism of the ancient Church while jettisoning the chaff of innovative medieval accretion than did any other segment of the Reformation. This is why Anglicanism can, perhaps uniquely, lay equal claim to the appellations Protestant and Catholic and affirm both without any sense of inconsistency or incoherence. Indeed, strictly speaking, in proper understanding of each term, to truly be one, you must be both.

"To truly be one, you must be both."  Newman said that to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.  I agree, rather, with Death Bredon: To be a true Protestant is to be deep in (Catholic) history and to believe all the Catholic doctrines and practices that are not in opposition to Scripture.   In fact, to the extent that Protestantism becomes uncatholic, it becomes inherently unstable, as Protestant amply demonstrates, and as the current defection of leftist Evangelicals amply demonstrates. 

This article by Peter Leithart entitled The End of Protestantism pretty much reflects my thinking on this matter, and is indicative of the kind of things I will be writing in the future on this matter.  Toward that end, I have deleted from my sidebar all the links critical of Anglo-Catholicism, Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, though the OJC articles lnked there still exist.  (You'll have to search for them if you want to read them.) 

Thursday
Jun112015

CANA Affirms Classical Anglicanism

Story here.  And I know of at least one Anglo-Catholic priest who voted for it.  A positive sign, I hope.

Tuesday
Jun092015

Martin Thornton’s Syllabus on the Anglican Spiritual Tradition

H/T Matthew Dallman at the Catholic Anglican.

Martin Thornton’s Syllabus

[from the appendix to English Spirituality: An Outline of Ascetical Theology According to the English Pastoral Tradition, rev. ed. 1986.]

A Course of Study in Ascetical Theology for Parish Priests and Theological Students of the Anglican Communion

After delivering lectures on this and kindred subjects, I am invariably asked for a “reading list” by those of my audience whose interest has been stirred, or more likely, by those whose politeness and charity wish to give that impression. It is an immensely difficult request: we are not dealing with a “subject” with its own clearly defined literature, but with an approach to theology springing from, and leading back to, prayer. Neither are we dealing with scholars for whom theological study is their main job, but with busy parish priests and students whose burdensome curriculum does not include ascetics as such. This practical point is frequently forgotten by the compilers of such reading lists or courses of study; nothing is more frustrating to serious students and parish priests than to be given prescribed reading at the rate of twenty tomes a month, or to be exhorted to such scholarly ideals of sticking to original sources and eschewing simple commentaries. Since those giving this advice frequently spend their lives writing commentaries, one is forced to wonder what is the point of them all.

The following scheme is an attempt to avoid such impractical ideals. It is, I think, the sort of scheme that a serious reader of this present book—itself no more than an introduction—might naturally compose for himself. Spread over two years, in eight quarterly periods, the scheme suggests ten books to be seriously studied, which is possible to a parish priest giving only five hours a week to it. These books are listed in the first column. Column 2 lists twenty more books which might be “read through” rather than pored over; almost bedside books; or which may be referred to casually at odd free moments. The third column contains a selection of “devotional” books for use in private prayer, which fit in with the reading and which should give a fair picture of English spirituality in action.

My scheme is obviously suggestive: details may vary with personal choice, and it is not meant to be adhered to rigidly. The daily Office is of course assumed, as is meditative use of the Bible throughout. Anyone who finds difficulty with the Office might well bring in some of the Caroline devotional teaching much earlier than the last six months of the two-year period. I have omitted the fundamental “background” books like Harton, Pourrat, and Scaramelli: these might be regarded as general works of reference. I have also kep rather too strictly to the English School: we have seen how St Ignatius Loyola and the Carmelites can be usefully incorporated, while slight acquaintance with, say, the Rhineland Dominicans brings English spirituality into relief by contrast.

I have tried to keep only to books currently in print, and have included devotional books most of which are now available cheaply in paperback form. A few visits to a good theological library, however, would reveal extra riches, particularly in the form of seventeenth-century manuals of private devotion.

If five hours a week of serious study (column 1) are backed up by a similar period of mental prayer or spiritual reading, I think we might have a creative scheme not unduly arduous to the type of reader in mind. Remembering the central speculative-affective synthesis, the main columns also tend to become interchangeable: Anselm and Julian can obviously either be studied or prayed. With a little fluidity and ingenuity it will be found that the four yearly quarters more or less fit with the liturgical season (Advent-Septuagesima, Septuagesima-Easter, Easter-Trinity 10, Trinity 10-Advent). I do not think a parish priest following such a scheme need spend much time on sermon preparation or devotional addresses: nor do I think these would be sub-standard!

My own scheme here appended is neither perfect nor invariable, but as a pattern I hope it may be practical and of use.

Tuesday
Jun092015

The British State's Silent War on Religion

It is increasingly clear that the UK government’s failing attempt to promote British values has inadvertently turned into a sanctimonious and intolerant campaign against traditionalist religious institutions. Since most of the targets of the British-values campaign are culturally isolated – Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hasidic Jews, fundamentalist Christians, radical Islamists – many otherwise sensitive observers have not picked up on what is a silent war against religion.

This unrestrained and insidious turn taken by the disoriented British-values campaign was exposed last month when it emerged that young Muslim children in one primary school were given a test to assess their predilection for radicalisation. The stated purpose of this intrusive Big Brother-style initiative was to ‘identify the initial seeds of radicalisation’. Judging by the questions posed, it appears that the marker for the precrime of radicalisation was the strength of infants’ feelings about the way of life of their families. To discover how pupils felt about their beliefs, the test asked them to indicate whether they agreed, disagreed or were unsure about the following statement: ‘I believe my religion is the only correct one.’ Any child agreeing with this statement was deemed to be in danger of becoming radicalised into anti-British values.

The sentiments underpinning this infant-radicalisation test also inform the work of Ofsted school inspectors, assorted government programmes and the outlook of the political establishment. From this elite perspective, those who believe that their religion is the truth contradict the unstated official version of British values – namely, that all religions are correct. According to the jargon of the day, an inclusive, non-judgemental and respectful attitude towards other people’s beliefs is mandatory for school children. This demand for non-judgemental respect implicitly negates the freedom of conscience of millions of ardent believers for one simple reason: many religions assume that only they possess the truth. For Christians, Jews and Muslims, the idea that all religions are correct makes little sense. Indeed, if all religions are ‘correct’, then living in accordance solely with one particular faith is absurd. . . .

The right to religious freedom is the cornerstone on which the ideal of tolerance was founded. It is paradoxical that in the 21st century, when the right to be different is so widely celebrated, that the right to act on your religious beliefs is so readily pathologised.

Read the entire article here.

There is only one thing for these religious communities to do, and that is to tell the Enforcers of PC orthodoxy to go pound sand, followed by a campaign of unified, stubborn resistance. Worked for the Jews in the Roman Empire.  Here's Jim Kalb on the question, "How bad will things get?":

Right-wingers are alarmed by totalitarian features of advanced liberalism: its insistent universalism, its theoretical coherence and simplicity, its resolute suppression of alternative principles of social order, its principled rejection of common sense, inherited ways, and the very concept of human nature. In the long run, they ask, how much difference can there be between “inclusiveness”—putting all persons and all human goals and actions into a single relation to a single universal and comprehensive order of things—and “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State”? If anything, the former aspiration seems more unlimited and therefore more frightening.

From the liberal standpoint, of course, all this is a joke. The liberal state is different from every other state. It’s a system of power that isn’t a system of power. It has a ruling class of experts, functionaries and lawyers that is reliably disinterested and moral. By controlling everything it sets everything free. That’s why it’s not fanaticism but moderation to say that only liberal states are legitimate. Worrying about “totalitarian liberalism” is like worrying about “oppression by neutrality” or “enslavement by freedom.” It might be an interesting paradox, but as a practical matter it just shows there’s something wrong with you. Above all, liberals are good people and don’t do bad things except to the extent they fall short of liberalism.

Still, what are the practicalities? It may be right—I think it is—to shrug off the liberal self-image as hopelessly self-deluded, but there are some things to say in its favor. In principle, liberalism may be far more ambitious than Mussolini’s fascism, and its ultimate goals may be far more inhuman, but it habitually proceeds by much softer means. Rather than crush an opposing force directly it weakens it by a thousand influences that make it unable to function and assert itself. Criminal prosecutions, when they come, are just a way of formalizing and putting beyond dispute a principle that’s already all but universally accepted. The Swedish government didn’t decide to toss Ake Green in the slammer for a sermon denouncing homosexuality until the Swedes had abandoned religion, made the provident state the basis of everything, and decided that since family relationships no longer served a serious function the sole public standard for sexual connections would be universal equal acceptance. When they came for Pastor Green, no one defended him and they could do what they wanted without being forced outside their comfort zone.

In the end, the liberal state is not principled, and nothing built into liberalism limits how far it can go. Nonetheless, it’s enduringly squeamish. It will use the final measure of force only against weak opponents whom everyone that matters has agreed to hold in contempt. Groups and institutions that stand firm, present their views forcefully and confidently, and keep on going in the face of abuse—who preach the word in all settings, in season and out of season—will prevail. That’s something Catholics, among others, need to remember. How bad things get—and they could get very, very bad—is up to us.

Though liberty in the United States, is, in theory at least, protected by state and federal bills of rights, it is clear that American liberal statists are angling to rule its religious minorities via end runs around constitutional provisions, following the example of liberal states in Europe.  We need to muster the intestinal fortitude to tell them "no", we will not be ruled by them, and be willing to do anything necessary to protect our liberty when they refuse to take "no" for an answer.

Monday
Jun082015

The Unbreakable Unity of Word and Sacrament

From a convert to Anglicanism from the Baptist church.  Out there in the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican worlds, the unity has been broken.  Those places must recover that unity if they want to be genuinely catholic and apostolic.  It's all about the Gospel, which is why the severing of word and sacrament is not an option. 

I am an Anglican myself now, and my views of preaching have shifted from what they once were. Truthfully, I can’t imagine going back to forty-five-minute oral commentaries on a biblical passage. I also don’t think recordings are really “sermons,” strictly speaking; if preaching is in some way sacramental, surely it requires the bodily presence of preacher and hearers to each other? And I have enough Lutheran in me now to think that it’s perfectly possible to preach a faithful, verse-by-verse exposition of a biblical passage and still miss the Gospel. If the point of preaching is to publicly exhibit Jesus Christ as crucified, per St. Paul’s lapidary summary in the epistle to the Galatians, then no sermon, however “biblical” it might be, is complete without that. If it doesn’t lead inexorably to the Lord’s Table, at which the word of forgiveness becomes tangible and edible, then it isn’t really gospel preaching.

Admittedly, though, I worry as much or more these days about the disillusionment with preaching I find among many Anglicans my age. Many of us were raised in low-church evangelical traditions with strong pulpit ministries, and part of what has drawn us to the Anglican fold is the weekly Eucharist, which was marginal in our upbringings. (My childhood Southern Baptist church took Communion quarterly, with disposable cups of Welch’s and cufflink-shaped saltines.) At the evangelical Wheaton College, where half my friends, it seemed, discovered Anglicanism during their undergraduate years, I frequently heard sighs of relief: “I’m happy to go to a church where the altar, not the pulpit, is at the center.” If they had read Ishmael’s homiletic paean in Moby Dick, “Yes, the world’s a ship on its passage out . . . and the pulpit is its prow,” my fellow students would have substituted altar for pulpit without batting an eye.

I worry about this tendency not just because I am nostalgic for serious, rich, demanding sermons. Rather, I worry about it because I persist in believing that preaching—the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ from an appointed text or passages of Scripture—is inseparable from the deep sacramental life I’ve found in the Anglican church. “When the sacrament is severed from proclamation and so from scripture,” as George Hunsinger wrote in a recent essay, “it threatens to become an object of priestly manipulation and superstition.” But when the sacrament fulfills and interprets the preached Word, then preaching comes into its own. “The word,” Hunsinger continues, “proclaims Christ in his saving significance as the Incarnate Saviour” and is thus brought to completion when its hearers commune with that same Christ by receiving his body and blood.

I hope that my church will rediscover and do its part to guard and advance what the Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann has called the “unbreakable unity of word and sacrament.” I pray we continue to be a Eucharistic community, feeding on Christ each week in our hearts by faith with thanksgiving, as the liturgy has it. And may we also celebrate the rootedness of that feeding in the preached word. May we, as Schmemann puts it, celebrate preaching as what gives the sacrament its “evangelical content,” what prevents it from becoming a free-floating magical exercise shorn of its proclamatory character. May we, still and again, defend and love the pulpit.

The Pulpit is the Prow.

Saturday
Jun062015

Assorted Recent Comments from the ELCA's Metropolitan New York Synod Facebook Page

With reference to this photo.

“This year's Synod Assembly was very active, with resolutions adopted to divest from fossil fuels, commit to addressing racism in church and society, adopt a Disaster Plan, hold a ministerium, support the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, and more. Download the full Summary of Actions here.”

“Did you folks address things like rightly preaching the Gospel or properly administering the sacraments?”

“Why in God’s name is there a man in his underwear?”

“Beckie, just pretend you don't see anything. If you call too much attention to him, he might not be wearing the undies next time. Come Quickly Lord Jesus.”

“The Scandinavian Lutheran Hans Christian Anderson wrote the famous story about an honest little boy who was willing to point out the emperor's nakedness, while the adults pretended that the absurd was normal, prodded on by pride and fear borne of peer pressure. I bet if children were at this assembly, one of them would have certainly asked why that man wasn't wearing any pants.”

"’Tighty-Whities’??? Really????? Just out of curiosity, what *exactly* kind of answer am I supposed to give when asked about this???”

“I invite anyone offended by the idea of a man jumping around in his underwear during ‘worship’ which is apparently affirmed by this church group, to look up the closest LCMS church this weekend...we still believe that worship should be reverent."

Here is one such LCMS church.  This is what church is really all about right here, folks.  LCMS still understands, and parishes like this one really understand:

Friday
Jun052015

Fruit of the Loom Advert?

Photo of liturgical dancer at the opening of the recent Metropolitan New York Synod Assembly (ELCA).

Comment at the Synod's Facebook page from Lutheran Satire: "The main difference between the ELCA and the LCMS is that, in the ELCA, this is called worship, and in the LCMS, this is called an anxiety dream."

Thursday
Jun042015

From Robert A. J. Gagnon, Associate Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Here.

The President Declares Us to Be Bigots and Enemies of the State (Again)

Once more President Obama proclaims June to be the "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender [don't forget Transgender] Pride Month." Every federal worker and member of the armed forces received this presidential proclamation in their email (a FB friend who works for the federal government notified me this morning that he just received his). It labels all opposition to homosexual behavior as "prejudice," which, in effect, declares us all to be bigots and enemies of the state's ideology of sexual "diversity."

"... We celebrate the proud legacy LGBT individuals have woven into the fabric of our Nation, we honor those who have fought to perfect our Union, and we continue our work to build a society where every child grows up knowing that their country supports them, is proud of them, and has a place for them exactly as they are.... I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people."

"Proud Legacy"?

I do not celebrate as a "proud legacy" the advancement of an agenda that provides incentives for young people to dishonor the Creator's stamp of gender by treating their maleness or femaleness as only half intact in relation to their own sex, as though they were half-males or half-females needing to supplement their sex structurally through sexual union with someone of the same sex.

I do not celebrate as a "proud legacy" a form of behavior that, owing to the absence of a true sexual complement and thus a moderating influence on the extremes of a given sex, increases the risk of high numbers of sex partners, high relational turnover, sexually transmitted infections, and mental health problems.

I do not celebrate as a "proud legacy" the raising of children in "families" where such self-dishonoring, unstable, and harmful practices are modeled before vulnerable children.

I do not celebrate as a "proud legacy" profane, hyper-sexualized "gay pride" parades and workplace celebrations.

I do not celebrate as a “proud legacy” the elimination of public recognition of gender differences such that men confused about their sexuality are permitted to use female restrooms, young people are encouraged to cross-dress, and persons of all ages are given help to mutilate their bodies in a vain effort to become the sex that they are not.

And I do not celebrate as a "proud legacy" the attendant deprivation of civil and religious liberties and the persecution of those who rightly believe the Scriptures from Moses to Jesus and Paul that homosexual practice is sin.

Assault on Our Liberties and Persecution of Our Children

According to Obama, that makes me (and you) a proponent of prejudice and a denier of diversity who must be eliminated.

Why would any Christian vote for a politician who treats his beliefs about human sexuality as bigotry and seeks to codify that view into law, such that it leads to the persecution of his or her family?

Obama is the one person most responsible for Christians being persecuted today inasmuch as he has used the bully pulpit and awesome powers of the presidency to advance the homosexualist agenda both nationally and internationally from day one on. And what is the result?

*Christian organizations deprived of federal contracts and grants if they don't practice affirmative-action hiring of homosexually active applicants who don't share the Christian values of the organization.

*Members of the armed services, including officers and chaplains, required to promote the celebration of sexual "diversity" or face the prospect of disciplinary action.

*Religious ministries, seeking to help persons struggling with same-sex attractions, banned from helping willing minors and sued by multi-million dollar homosexualist advocacy groups.

*Christian colleges threatened with loss of accreditation if they do not allow homosexualist advocates to present their views on campus.

*Christian broadcasters and sports writers terminated if they post on FB that they are against "gay marriage."

*Christian florists, bakers, and photographers fined up to $130,000, plus court costs, if they decline to contribute their artistic talents to the abhorrent ritual of a "gay wedding."

*Christian teachers fired if they don't extol in the classrooms the virtues of a homosexualist agenda.

*Christian children forcibly indoctrinated to accept the notion of two fathers or two mothers and that it is a beautiful thing for boys to dress up like a "princess"; and Christian parents denied the right to have their children excused from presentations that promote perverse sexual activity with graphic images and descriptions.

*Christian college students ridiculed in the classroom for their stance on homosexual practice and denied voice, whose Christian groups are refused college recognition and funds if they do not permit homosexually active students as officers and are required to pay for extra security for speakers defending marriage as a union between man and woman (even though campus homosexualist advocates are responsible for the unsafe environment).

On and on the list goes, and it will only get worse because SCOTUS appointees of Obama (and Clinton) will ensure that "gay marriage" becomes the law of the land, even though such action is clearly legislating from the bench without constitutional authority.

Christians who previously cast their ballot for politicians who promoted the “LGBTQI” agenda are now causing us all to reap the whirlwind. It is already late in the hour of protecting our rights as free citizens of this great republic. Act for our children’s sake while you still can.

You know, I've purposely avoided this subject here at The Old Jamestown Church for a couple of reasons: 1) I have friends and colleagues who are gay, and I have just found it impossible not to be compassionate toward them, since gayness is something they haven't chosen.  Most gays and lesbians live a quiet life, want to be left alone, and desire to leave others alone.  And because we are all sexually fallen, I just don't think any heterosexual Christian is in any place to judge; 2) That traditional Anglicans are leaving the Anglican Communion (or realigning within it) in droves largely because of this issue is implicit in everything I write about the Continuing and Realigning churches, so I find no need to elaborate on it.

However, as Gagnon indicates it is becoming clear that powerful elites in Europe, North America and elsewhere are not content to live and let live.  They want a war.  Well, if they want a war, we'll give them a war.  ¡Viva Cristo Rey!


Wednesday
Jun032015

¡Viva Cristo Rey!

That was the cry of the Cristero warriors, Catholic Christians who took up arms against an oppressive socialist government in the early part of the 20th century.   The Cristero War was one resistance movement in recent Christian history where Christians took up arms to fight political oppression, a weapon they added to martyrdom, and which was based on Christian resistance theory that finds its incipient expression in the works of St. Augustine.  Other modern examples would be the overthrow of the Ottoman Empire's rule of Greece and the Balkans in the 19th century, the Catholic resistance against leftist republicans in the Spanish Civil War, and the overthrow of the brutal communist dictator of Romania, Nicolae Ceaușescu, by Romanian Orthodox Christians wielding Kalasnikov rifles and other weapons.   Christianity is not a pacifist religion, despite the sophistic arguments of the John Howard Yoders in the church peddling their unbiblical wares.  Western Christians have long believed Just War principles can be applied to Just Revolutions, and even though Orthodoxy does not have a Just War doctrine, it has more or less operated on the assumption that the Just War theory is true.  (One notable example can be found in Metropolitan Antony Khrapovitsky’s essay The Christian Faith and War.)   ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach recently made the unfortunate comment in a Martin Luther King Day sermon that "violence is not the answer. Violence only leads to more violence. It is non-violence which brings lasting social change".   I'll give His Grace the benefit of the doubt here and say that he was just trying to say something nice and profound about the civil rights luminary on MLK Day, whose model of activism was indeed based largely on Gandhian pacifism, as noted in the linked article.   But Archbishop Beach's comment is flat wrong when viewed in a biblical and Christian-historical context.  Plus, it's just flat wrong empirically.  The Orthodox Serbs and Greeks will tell you that their violent resistance against the Ottoman Turks brought lasting social change to their lands.

Violence is not the answer. Violence only leads to more violence. It is non-violence which brings lasting social change. - See more at: http://www.anglicanink.com/article/foley-beachs-martin-luther-king-day-sermon#sthash.BRfg6HNt.dpuf
Violence is not the answer. Violence only leads to more violence. It is non-violence which brings lasting social change. - See more at: http://www.anglicanink.com/article/foley-beachs-martin-luther-king-day-sermon#sthash.BRfg6HNt.dpuf
Violence is not the answer. Violence only leads to more violence. It is non-violence which brings lasting social change. - See more at: http://www.anglicanink.com/article/foley-beachs-martin-luther-king-day-sermon#sthash.BRfg6HNt.dpuf

As I have indicated previously, this blog will feature the occasional article on political matters, and one that is near and dear to my heart is the right of resistance to tyranny, awhich has for almost a millennium been considered a right of Englishmen.   Now that it is becoming clear to all of us the extent to which the liberal, secular (which is now to say, antichristian) state in Europe, North America and Oceania is willing to go in forcing its will upon the Church of Christ, fresh thought is being given by many Christian writers about what our response should be when things start getting bad

Eastern Orthodox author and blogger Rod Dreher has fired up a discussion of what he calls the “Benedict Option”,  based on some musings of philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre in his book After Virtue.  The discussion surrounds the question of what strategies of withdrawal, if indeed withdrawal becomes the only option, the church might embrace.  Dreher's Benedict Option idea is based loosely on the model of the monastic societies created by St. Benedict of Nursa and the influences they brought to bear in buidling Christendom after the fall of the Roman Empire.   The discussion at The American Conservative, where Dreher published his first article, can be seen here.   A recent article by Damon Linker at The Week, The Benedict Option: Why the religious right is considering an all-out withdrawal from politics, deserves a close look.  Linker begins his article:

Have you heard of the Benedict Option? If not, you will soon.

It's the name of a deeply pessimistic cultural project that's capturing the imaginations of social conservatives as they come to terms with the realization that the hopes and assumptions that animated the religious right over the past 35-odd years have been dashed by the sweeping triumph of the movement for same-sex marriage.

From the start, the religious right has been marked by two qualities: optimism and a faith in majoritarianism. The qualities are connected. Think back to Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority. The name conveyed its ideology: A majority of Americans are morally and religiously conservative. To the extent that the nation's politics and culture don't reflect that, it's because they have been co-opted by a secular liberal minority that has placed itself in control of such elite institutions as the media, Hollywood, the universities, the judiciary, and the federal bureaucracy. The proper response is to take back these institutions using democratic means, primarily elections.

In other words, play by the rules of the democratic game, and social conservatives will eventually triumph.

This sounded like a fantasy at first, since the movement began among evangelical Protestants, who never made up more than about 25 percent of the population, and whose style of worship and belief was profoundly off-putting to non-evangelical Christians, let alone to more secular Americans. But ecumenical and inter-religious efforts throughout the 1980s and early 1990s helped to forge an alliance among conservative believers in many faith traditions: evangelicals, but also Catholics, Mormons, Jews, and Muslims. This made talk of majorities at least plausible, and seemed to vindicate the optimism, too.

That no longer being the case, and will likely never be the case again, Linker mentions a previous episode in American history where conservatives had given up the notion that the collapsing American experiment could be salvaged:

Before the present moment, the one flicker of genuine gloom came in 1996, after a series of court rulings seemed to signal that secular liberalism was using the judiciary to thwart the will of the people. That inspired the conservative religious magazine First Things (for which I later worked) to run a notorious symposium titled "The End of Democracy?" An unsigned editorial introducing the symposium suggested that religious Americans would soon have to decide on options ranging "from noncompliance to resistance to civil disobedience to morally justified revolution."

The First Things symposium Linker references can ge read here.  It caused a number of conservatives, such as Midge Decter, to desert the First Things culture wars project, as the periodical had jumped the shark by starting to preach sedition.   However, one must take into account just how bad things were back in that day.  Author Ambrose Evans-Pritchard provided a glimpse into how bad it was in his book The Secret Life of Bill Clinton, mentioning the First Things symposium in his description of the times:

In Washington, Clinton moved with ruthless efficiency to take control of the federal machinery of coercion. While the U.S. watchdog press barked and howled with pitiful irrelevance about Clinton’s $200 hair cut, he quietly fired every U.S. Attorney in the country and then made his move on the FBI, which would be transformed gradually, one appointment at a time, into a replica of the Arkansas State Police. When he sacked William Sessions in July 1993, it was the first time in American history that a president had summarily dismissed an FBI director. The putsch passed without protest. This is how a country starts to lose a democracy.

I have not lost my faith in the American people. In the end, I believe, it is the ordinary citizens who will cleanse the institutions of the country before they become irretrievably corrupt. They are the heroes of this book. Ultimately, this is an optimistic essay, a paean to the American spirit. But let me tell you, I am astounded by the bullying and deceitful conduct of the U.S. Justice Department, the FBI, and other law enforcement agencies under this administration. No doubt there have been abuses in the past, but I believe that malfeasance has become systemic over the last five years. It is spreading down, by example, lodging itself in the institutional apparatus of government. Whether it is the Internal Revenue Service targeting foes of the president, or the Immigration and Naturalization Service expediting citizenship for “Democratic” voters in time for the 1996 elections, or the prostitution of the Lincoln Bedroom, the Clinton reflex is in evidence everywhere. To put it with brutal honesty, you can sniff the pungent odors of decay in the American body politic. I expect that this is what it smelt like in continental Europe in the 1920s, even as the boom rolled on.

When you are living through events day-by-day it is hard to know whether you are witnessing an historic turning point in the life of a country, or just mistaking the usual noise of politics for something meaningful. But there can be no doubt that the undercurrents in the era of William Jefferson Clinton are unprecedented. It was driven home to me by a symposium in November 1996 held by Father Richard Neuhaus, a respected Catholic intellectual and editor of First Things. Neuhaus warned that the experiment of the founding fathers was in danger of failing, and he pointedly spoke of the “the trail of abuses and usurpations” that set off the first American Revolution. Has it reached the point, he asked, “where conscientious citizens can no longer give moral assent to the existing regime?”

Yes, he said “regime.”

Something about Bill Clinton—his ineffable caddishness, perhaps—is changing the political discourse of the country. Every year that he continues in power, he eats a little deeper into the eroded legitimacy of the political order. The importance of this cannot be exaggerated. Three-quarters of the American people now tell pollsters that they do not trust the government to do the right thing. If ever there was a time when a leader of stoic virtue was needed to restore the authority of the national institutions, it is surely now.

It is under this president that domestic terrorism has become a feature of daily life in America. For decades the country was largely free of the political violence that has afflicted much of western Europe. Indeed, Europeans looked across the Atlantic with envy, marveling at the way this huge bustling nation managed to order its affairs with such cohesive goodwill. Not any longer. The actions and character of President Clinton have engendered the most deadly terrorist movement in the industrialized world. I choose the word “movement” advisedly because I do not accept the Justice Department claim that Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh were acting alone when they killed 168 people in the Oklahoma federal building in April 1995. There has been a steady campaign of bombing since then: three in Atlanta alone, including the deadly pipe bomb that eclipsed the 1996 Olympics. The attacks are so ubiquitous that they do not make the national news unless somebody is killed. To a foreign eye, America looks like a country that is flying out of control.

Again, it is under Clinton that an armed militia movement involving tens of thousands of people has mushroomed out of the plain, an expression of dissent that is unparalleled since the southern gun clubs before the Civil War. People do not spend their weekends with an SKS rifle, drilling for guerrilla warfare against federal forces, in a country that is at ease with itself. It takes very bad behavior to provoke the first simmerings of armed insurgency, and the militias are unmistakably Clinton’s offspring.

Here in 2015 under the Obama regime and with another possible Clinton regime in the wings, things are immeasurably worse.   As Linker intimates, therefore, maybe First Things had it right.  I for one believed they did when I read the symposium back in 1996, and I believe it with fervor now.

Hence the “Benedict Option”, where, as Linker put it with respect to the conclusion of the First Things symposium, “religious Americans (will) soon have to decide on options ranging from noncompliance to resistance to civil disobedience to morally justified revolution.’"   Three things, in that order.   The Just Revolution, like the Just War, is always the last resort.  But a justifiable resort it is.

Charles Murray has recently jumped onto the resistance bandwagon in his new book, By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without PermissionA review published yesterday at the Washington Post can be read here.  What Murray says about resisting an out-of-control bureaucracy can apply to any out-of-control behavior of the government, including the unconstitutional  assaults on free speech, right to keep and bear arms, right to privacy, states right. . . and freedom of religion.   And that’s what I will be addressing from time to time here at OJC.

I recently stumbled onto a related article at First Things from 1998 entitled, The Neo-Augustinian Temptation, by Robert Benne.   The author is critical of the writings of a number of authors from this movement because of their desire to opt out of cultural and political engagement.   Early Benedict Optioners, in other words, though of an Augustinian stripe.   Their suggestions are interesting:

The movement, if it is cohesive enough to be called that, is committed to the construction of an independent and distinct churchly culture based upon the full narrative of Israel and the Church as it has been carried through the ages by the Great Tradition. Theologically, the neo-Augustinians are anti-foundationalists who believe that a religious tradition like Christianity is a cultural-linguistic system that cannot and should not be compromised by any standards not its own. They learned that from Lindbeck.

Biblically, they argue that the early Christianity depicted in the Pauline letters was a churchly “public” or culture of its own, flourishing along side of but radically distinct from the Roman, Jewish, and Hellenistic cultures of the time. “Paul already regards the Church as a new public order in the midst of the nations with its own distinctive culture,” argues David Yeago. Christians who entered such a culture were “dying to the world” in the sense that they were entering a new ecclesial world.

Ethically, they contend that the practices of this distinct, living tradition form the Christian virtues that sustain such an ecclesial world. The Church’s worship, preaching, teaching, and communal life shape the virtues that maintain the practices of marriage and family life, charity, hospitality, governance, art, and thought that provide a real alternative to the dying world about us. The Church essentially needs no sources other than its own for the ethical task. Milbank asserts that the Church produces its own “ecclesial society,” with an attendant ontology, social theory, ethics, and economics.

Ecclesiology, that formerly unexciting branch of systematic theology, takes on urgency in the neo-Augustinians’ writings. The Church is a constitutive dimension of the Gospel, manifesting a comprehensive new life. It is the Body of Christ in a direct and literal way, a people in continuity with the people of Israel. It needs to live truly from its own sources and forget about worldly relevance. “The Church is a public in its own right,” says Hütter. “The world,” when pressed hard, is simply another religious vision of life that is a poison when ingested uncritically by the Church. . . .

Above all, they are contemptuous of the “modern settlement,” to use Yeago’s term, in which secular, liberal society, with its procedural definition of justice, has succeeded in marginalizing the religious vision. The modern settlement has insisted on a “naked public square” in which religion is relegated to the private sphere of life. Meanwhile, modernity’s own “scientific” way of understanding life is dogmatized as the only public meaning available. Rather than being “objective” or “scientific,” secular social theories are, Milbank argues, “concealed theologies or anti-theologies.” In this “settlement,” Christian belief becomes a weekend hobby in no real competition with the really serious ways of understanding life in this world-sociology, psychology, economics, and political science. . . .

Almost as objectionable are the desiccated religious bodies that have accepted the modern settlement, albeit unconsciously. Mainstream church bodies have tacitly bought the argument that politics and therapy are more important than Christian faith, and have allowed their theologies to become handmaidens of ideology or psychology. They give sacred legitimation to secular knowledge and action and thereby become “relevant.” (Several of the neo-Augustinians have made the surprising charge that the theology of Reinhold Niebuhr is best understood as a religious legitimation of liberal democracy.) These mainstream bodies, though they think they are involved in “transformation,” are more likely being acculturated more deeply into the modern settlement. According to Hütter, such attempts ironically “deepen the Church’s irrelevance and undermine its public (political) nature by submitting and reconditioning the Church according to the saeculum’s understanding of itself as the ultimate and normative public.”. . . .

The neo-Augustinian project strikes some critics as a new sectarianism, but it is far from that. Its proponents believe in culture-Christian culture. They are not inimical to the arts, music, politics, economic life, education. But these cultural activities, they insist, will have to be renewed-if not entirely rebuilt-on Christian assumptions. Culture under the modern settlement is depleting its inheritance from the Christian past and is gradually descending into perversion and chaos. A new culture must arise from the Church.

The neo-Augustinians are also catholic-even if they are Lutherans, Methodists, or Presbyterians. They transcend modern Christian divisions by attempting to retrieve a premodern Christian consensus. They have a “high” Christology, sacramentology, and ecclesiology and are committed to maintaining strong continuity with the great catholic tradition. They emphasize Catholic substance over Protestant principle.

There is much that is attractive and compelling in this movement. Its confidence in and clarity about orthodox Christianity is highly persuasive. It is refreshing to encounter serious thinkers who argue unabashedly that the Christian vision is true and trustworthy and that it matters ultimately.

This neo-Augustinian outlook is particularly tempting in moments when one is convinced that the current culture of the West is unraveling. Modernity’s commitment to individual rights and procedural justice seems to have no way of affirming substantive moral notions as to how we should live together in community. Indeed, “rights talk” is used as a trump card to override the inherited moral substance of our common life. The Protestant culture that provided the social glue for most of American history is in shambles and shows scant prospect of being revived or renewed. What little remains of the Protestant Establishment indicates no commitment to such traditional Judeo-Christian notions as the sanctity of life at its beginning and end, of marriage as a lifelong convenant of fidelity between a man and a woman, of intrinsic, non-utilitarian moral norms, or of the grateful acceptance of given conditions of life.

As one watches the moral norms that make for decency and restraint slowly erode, it is tempting to declare a pox on our national house and opt out of the struggle for a common culture. It would be pleasant to lose oneself in an ecclesial culture that affirms orthodox Christianity and is eagerly building a parallel culture, one built on the rock of faith instead of the endlessly shifting sands of modernity. In such circumstances, one could quit the perpetual struggle with those in both church and society who seem to have wholeheartedly bought into the modern settlement. Who wants always to appear reactionary or nostalgic?

This new vision offers the prospect of creating a genuine “people,” not merely a collection of political or psychological activists or, worse, religious consumers. It aims at incorporating full persons into a full ecclesial culture that can overcome the terrible fragmentation of modern life into semi-autonomous spheres of existence. One would have a coherent and cohesive “world” to live in along side the decaying world around it. Wasn’t this in fact what the early Church provided at the beginning of the common era?

Benne’s rejection of their program because of what he perceives as a failure of nerve or lack of trust in the process is difficult to defend in light of what’s transpired in Western Europe, North America and Oceania since 1998.   I plan to start reading these authors, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find that someone, somewhere has mentioned them in the Benedict Option discussion.

Sounding much like the Neo-Augustinians on these points, Anglican author T.S. Eliot presciently wrote,

The World is trying the experiment of attempting to form a civilized but non-Christian mentality. The experiment will fail; but we must be very patient in awaiting its collapse; meanwhile redeeming the time: so that the Faith may be preserved alive through the dark ages before us; to renew and rebuild civilization, and save the World from suicide.

This, in fact, is where we are.    Whether or not it is God’s will to renew Christian civilization remains to be seen, for it is certainly possible that we are heading into events that will directly precede the Parousia.   But as history shows, it is folly Christians to operate on the assumption that the End is near.  It may be, rather, that Christian history is simply repeating itself.   If so, we need to keep all the tools in our shed, including the option for armed resistance should that become necessary (and, please God, it won’t).

Whatever happens, our battle cry will always be ¡Viva Cristo Rey!, Long Live Christ The King!, for He is our only true, dread sovereign.   All other political authority is delegated by Him, and we obey it only so long as it remains legitimate.

I've created three new categories today in the left sidebar for links to pertinent articles: Resisting Political Antichristianity and Resisting Radical Islam.  Please see the articles I lnked today and check back for more.

Wednesday
Jun032015

Archbishops of Canterbury and York on Women in Holy Orders - 1966

All theistic religions (that is to say, religions in which the God or Gods transcend the created order and stand behind nature and history, as well as acting in them, rather than being merged in a monistic or pantheistic unity) have male priesthoods. Female priesthoods belong to the nature religions in which human nature is sensed to be merely part of society, society part of nature, and nature itself Divine. The Christian Church, rooted in the biblical view of God and his relation to the world, has without question adopted a male priesthood. It is therefore pertinent to ask whether the feature of a male priesthood can be modified by the addition of a female priesthood without altering the essential character of the Christian ministry, and without affecting the human psyche at those deep levels at which it responds to religious symbolism.

Or, as C.S. Lewis put it in his essay, Priestesses in the Church?:

Suppose the reformer stops saying that a good woman may be like God and begins saying that God is like a good woman. Suppose he says that we might just as well pray to "Our Mother which art in heaven" as to "Our Father". Suppose he suggests that the Incarnation might just as well have taken a female as a male form, and the Second Person of the Trinity be as well called the Daughter as the Son. Suppose, finally, that the mystical marriage were reversed, that the Church were the Bridegroom and Christ the Bride. All this, as it seems to me, is involved in the claim that a woman can represent God as a priest does.

Prophetic words, these, from some of the last orthodox thinkers in the Church of England.

What difference will women bishops make? Quite a lot, it seems...

Let God be a 'she', says Church of England women's group

Providing a bit of comic relief in response to this madness, Fr. Charles Nalls provides us with a photo of Libby Lane's new bishop's chair:

                       

Tuesday
Jun022015

Embryo Parson, Friend of the Orthodox

On March 29 of this year, an Orthodox fellow named Stefano began posting comments in rapid succession to a number of blog posts I had written having to do with Eastern Orthodoxy.  As it was Lent, and as I am increasingly disinclined to debate with Orthodox apologists (as opposed to those who are more interested in the kind of dialogue with Anglicans that took place in the early 20th century), and as it has lately been my intent to reciprocate by dialoguing with the Orthodox in the same spirit, I told Stefano that I would not respond to his spate of comments until sometime after Easter.  That time is now.

Eyes-Glazing-Over Warning: this is likely to be a long and tedious post, as I will endeavor here to answer Stefano in some detail.  You’ve been advised. ;)

For Stefano:  Should you desire to comment further, I request that you lodge those comments here.  If there are additional posts of mine to which you haven’t yet commented but desire to do so, please don’t do so there, but cite the blog entry here in this combox section and write your response there.  My intent here is to funnel the discussion into one place, rather than having to chase you all around the site in order to address your comments.  Thanks.

Stefano’s comments will appear in italicized tests with my comments in non-formatted text interspersed or following.

March 29: "Orthodox Christianity for Anglicans"

I've just been reading through your blog. It is very interesting. I was wondering, do you acknowledge that Christians called themselves 'Orthodox' in the 4th and 5th centuries? And afterwards of course. What I mean is that they called their belief orthodox and their church catholic. It's only a small step to use Orthodox to describe the church.

Yes, I do so acknowledge that they referred to themselves as “orthodox”.  They also referred to themselves as “catholic”.  However, it was not such a small step from there to “Orthodoxy”, with the initial cap, because there were many intervening centuries marked by substantial liturgical and theological development, so much so that Anglican patrologists would question how faithfully modern Eastern Orthodoxy represents the patristic mind in certain areas.

Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Church, Chalcedonians, Greek Church, etc are merely convenient terms as using 'the one, holy catholic and apostolic church' or just 'catholic' could get confusing with all the myriad of denominational labels out there.

Indeed.  The term “Anglican”, which also refers to a certain understanding of catholicity, only adds to the confusion.  Fr. Robert Hart often jokes about the “Two One True Churches” with reference to the Church of Rome and the Orthodox Churches, but as advocates of the “branch theory” he and I would say that classical Anglicanism represents No. Three.

As you we'll know, the Orthodox Church considers the western pre-schism church as part of the Orthodox Church with the exception of a few growing aberrations that eventually led to the schism.

Yes, as we well know, but as you well know, we’re not impressed by the assessment of “the West” set forth by your rank-and-file Orthodox apologist.

When I was young, the Orthodox Church was incessantly criticised for not seeking converts. Now they are criticised for being zealous. With all the schisms and 'realignments', which is the 'real' Anglican Church.

Well, we would say the one that enjoys support from the facts of Anglican history and Anglicanism’s formularies.  It’s pretty easy to discern which movements in Anglicanism represent departures.  I’m sure you would employ a similar test in trying to discern which of the various schisms in Eastern Orthodoxy represent the “real” Orthodox Church.

March 29: Scot McKnight v. Michael Jensen?

Hi Again,
Point # 1 is a fantastic example of historical revisionism and anachronism. For example, how can there be an English Church in the 3rd century? The Angles and Saxons wouldn't migrate to to Britain for another 150 years. Or does Jensen mean the 'British Church'?

I’m not sure I understand your objection.  Jensen’s Point #1 reads, “Since the arrival of Christianity in Britain in the 3rd century, British Christianity has had a distinct flavor and independence of spirit, and was frequently in tension with Roman Catholicism.”

??

Anyone reading Bede's Eccelistical History can see that the English Church was totally Roman loyalist. Anglo-Saxons even wanted the Archbishop of Canterbury consecrated in Rome for that reason. Anglo-Saxon missionaries on the Continent like Boniface and Willibrord were at the forefront of promoting Papal authority. I'd love a list of examples of the 'independence of spirit' by the pre-reformation English Church, if you have one handy.

Though the English Church did come under Roman authority more decidedly after the Synod of Whitby, the history of the relationship between the England and Rome is rife with examples of the tension between the two.  In the time leading up to the Reformation, nationalist sentiment against Rome was brewing not only in England and the English Church, but elsewhere in the emerging states (and their churches) in Europe.  I’m guessing that you won’t dispute this, and that the list of examples you request therefore isn’t all that necessary.  English Erastianism, by the way, is much closer to the historic Orthodox model of the relation of church and state than was the state of affairs before the Reformation.

March 29: For Evangelicals and Others Considering Eastern Orthodoxy

Wow,
These are your reasons for leaving Orthodoxy?

Well, this article was geared not so much toward my reasons for leaving Orthodoxy as it was toward explaining, mainly to Evangelicals but also to other kinds of traditionalist Christians, why Orthodoxy won’t be a good fit for them.   But yes, these were some key reasons for my departure.  I go into some additional detail in my blog entry, The Life and Times of the Embryo Parson.

You do realise that the Orthodox Churches in the USA are not actually the Orthodox Church but just the manifestation of the church in that country. Your comments are very American focused.

Indeed, I am writing for an Anglo-American readership, not an Eastern European one.

1. Creeping liberalism. The challenges of modern ideologies are putting pressure on all.

I’m happy to see your acknowledgment that modern anti-Christian ideologies are putting pressure on us all.  I would argue that even the more instinctively conservative churches of the Orthodox East aren’t immune to the assaults of Western liberalism theologically manifested.

Your answer is to become an Anglican?

Again, not for all, but definitely for many.   As to what I mean by, Anglican, you seem to be a little confused here:

As an Anglican you are in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury ( even with the 'realignment in the USA). Due to the Provoo Agreement, the Archbishop of Canterbury is in communion with the lesbian Lutheran 'bishop' of Stockholm. It seems your answer to creeping liberalism is to give up the fight.

The situation is a little more complex than that.  Let me explain. 

When I became an Anglican, I did so via reception into a “Continuing” body called The Anglican Catholic Church.  It is not in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, or a member of the Anglican Communion – and despite what the ABC says, the latter is not necessarily connected with the former.

Subsequently, I entered the Anglican Mission in the Americas, a “Realignment” body.  AMiA is a missionary society, not a diocese or a province.  While AMiA’s clergy are canonically resident in certain African dioceses which are part of the Anglican Communion, AMiA itself is not in communion with the ABC or any of the liberal bodies that are a part of the communion.

The likelihood is that the Anglican Communion will split into traditionalist and progressive communions sometime in the not too distant future, so the current netherworld of relations is practically moot.  Conservative Anglicans like me do not consider ourselves in communion with apostates.   What’s more Christian history is witness to other kinds of “netherworldly” relations, so the current one WRT the Anglican Communion doesn’t bother traditionalists too much.  We all know that our ecclesial future will be a realignment of some sort, though we face may challenges in getting there.   Still, for most of us, that option is better than the options championed by the Two One True Churches.

2. Anti-western? Have Orthodox nations banned Shakespeare or something?

Well, no, that’s clearly what I don’t mean.  Try responding to the actual argument, not straw men of your own making.

Do you mean that Orthodoxy opposes western heresy? Yes please.

No, not just that Orthodoxy opposed western heresy, but western orthodoxy as well.  As the article and the comments show, even some of your own spokesmen have decried the mindless anti-Westernism of many of your church’s spokesmen.

3. Too ethnic? Seriously? No, really, seriously?

Yes, seriously. 

With thinking like that, Greeks in the first century shouldn't have become Christians because Christianity was 'too Jewish'. Every convert in the USA makes Orthodoxy less ethnic. I, myself, find the Anglican Church very ethnic - it's full of people of English descent.

I rest my case.  Nothing wrong with ethnicity, per se.  It’s just that for Westerners, the thick ethnicity of Orthodoxy is off-putting.  That is, except for that small band of zealous Anglo-American converts named “Joe” and “Mike” who rename themselves “Christodoulos” and “Silouan.”

4. The atonement- this is your only theological reason. You list stoicism as the source of Orthodox problems but then your quote from McGrath goes on about Philo and Plato. I'd like to be convinced on this. What you need to show me are quotes from the Church fathers like Athanasius, Basil and John Chrysostom that reference, quote or have verbal parallels to stoic authors. When I look at their works they quote the New Testament to me not stoic authors.

You’ve misread the quote from McGrath.  What he says in that passage is that many of the Church Fathers, responding to fatalistic Greek philosophies such as stoicism, made the mistake of trying to address those philosophies with equally unbiblical and pagan notions about the freedom of the will.

According to you, after the NT the church lapsed into heresy on this issue and Augustine fixed it?

That’s too simplistic of an analysis.  The argument, rather, is that many Church Fathers latched on to pagan notions about “free will” in response to the fatalisms of their day, and these notions infected their theologizing.  One of the theological trajectories from that pool of error resulted in Pelagianism, which in fact the one holy catholic and apostolic church does condemn as a heresy, and that largely due to the influence of Augustine and his school.  Its condemnation, however, did not prevent certain Fathers from tinkering with another view that the West considers heretical, Semipelagianism.

The debate on the meaning of predestination and election was never settled in the church, and that’s one reason why the Vincentian canon is only of limited value in determining what is, and is not, catholic.   That debate remains unsettled in the Anglican Churches.  For some of us, the Augustinian understanding reflected in the 39 Articles – and I would argue the Prayer Book as well – is controlling.  For other Anglicans, the Arminianism of the Caroline Divines and later theologians is controlling.   I am happy to tolerate both as valid catholic theologoumena, as was the case the pre-schism church, but unfortunately is not the case in the Orthodox Churches.  Well, unless St. Innocent of Alaska proves me wrong:

Brethren, you have heard that the goal of our Society is to advance the conversion of those who do not yet believe in Christ our Savior. That is, we accept, each according to his abilities and the measure of his zeal, to further the conversion to the Orthodox Faith and the Truth of those among our fellow countrymen who still wander in the darkness of unbelief. As you can see, the work we hope to advance is great and holy and truly apostolic.

In order to obtain the success one desires, even in ordinary tasks and undertakings, it is necessary to muster (independently of financial means) intelligence, knowledge, experience, ability, activity and energy. When with all of this the circumstances are just right, one has reason to hope for success.

Now, in the work we wish to advance, this does not in the main apply. To be sure, we too will need (in addition to financial means) intelligence, knowledge, experience, ability and so on, but we cannot - and must not, even under the best of circumstances - count on these factors as a sure means of attaining our goal. And why not? Because man's conversion to the path of faith and truth depends entirely upon God. "No one can come to me", said the Savior, "unless the Father who sent Me draws him to Me" [Jn 6:44]. Therefore if, according to his inscrutable judgments, the Lord does not wish for a given person or nation to be converted to Jesus Christ, even the most capable, most gifted, most zealous of workers will not succeed in his task. (Address of Metropolitan Innocent Veniaminov to the Organizational Meeting of the Orthodox Missionary Society, 1868. Quoted in Alaskan Missionary Spirituality, ed. Michael Oleksa, p. 141)

Everyone who looks at Augustine admits that many aspects of his theology are highly personal. I know that John Cassian and Vincent of Lerins reacted to Augustine for that reason. I'd like some historical evidence on this before I admit your view even has any historicity.

Every Father’s theology is “highly personal”, wouldn’t you say?   Patristic consensus is not evident on many issues, and those idiosyncratic views of theirs that haven’t been condemned by the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church we call “theologoumena.”

March 30: Returning to Classical Anglicanism from Eastern Orthodoxy

This account is very informative. I can hardly accuse Michael of not knowing his stuff. There are many great insights in this account. Ultimately, it seems Michael left the Orthodox Church because he couldn't agree 100 % with the Church's teachings.

That’s usually up there with the major reasons someone leaves a church.

Luckily, 'Classic Anglicanism' has room for you to believe pretty much whatever you want.

It doesn’t, actually.  Look up the meaning of “classical.”

What struck me is what Michael still accepts of Orthodox theology. I would say he is 90% orthodox now.

Indeed.  There is a variant of Anglo-Catholicism called “Philorthodoxy.”  There are a number of Philorthodox Anglicans like Michael Millard.  Arthur Middleton would be one of their representatives in Anglican academia.  However, Mr. Millard also believes in the ordination of women to the priesthood, so that would be something that might cut into that 90% assessment substantially.

Interestingly, Embryo Parson, Michael seems to have totally missed the 'unbiblical' nature of Orthodox soteriology and anthropology. He even claims that Augustine is wrong on this point. Who is right? You or him?

The implication is that there is room in the Anglican Church for both.

Like I said above, the Anglican churches have come to treat both Augustinian and anti-Augustinian soteriologies as theologoumena.  There are even some outright Pelagians among the Anglicans.  But our formularies are decidedly Augustinian in their soteriology, and as you can see I am a stickler for the formularies.  Who’s right?  Well, on the issues of predestination and election, Jesus and the apostles are right.  Those theologies that depart from their teaching are in error.  One of those theologies, Pelagianism, has been condemned by the Catholic church, but unfortunately some Anglicans  -- and some Orthodox too I would argue – have a hankering for that heresy, or at least flirt with it too closely.

April 5: Yet Another Eastern Orthodox Apologist Aspires to Correct Me

Hi,
You can call me Stefano not "Stefano". It is my actual name. I don't have anything to hide. I am not in America, I have never lived there or even visited. I am also a life long Orthodox Christian. I look forward to an intellectual exchange over issues that concern you.

Firstly, I'd like to propose some hypotheticals -
Imagine if a Greek monk from some eastern city, let's say Tarsus for sake of argument, was to make their way to the west in say, I don't know, the seventh century and found themselves in England. Perhaps that monk might find himself in a position authority, maybe Archbishop of Canterbury or something. Would the Anglo-Saxon clergy have issues with this hypothetical monk over his understanding of sin, grace and salvation? Perhaps this monk might be there for 20 years so there was plenty of time for issues like this to manifest themselves. Perhaps there might be no problems about this at all and they only talk about haircuts. Makes you wonder.

My guess would be that at this geographical location at that particular juncture in Christian history there would have been little if any such struggles between the Anglo-Saxon clergy and ABC Theodore of Tarsus.  Had ABC Theodore of Tarsus been able to live a few hundred years and meet Augustinian ACBs such as Anselm of Aosta or Thomas Bradwardine, however, sparks probably would have flown.  Assuming, that is, that Theodore of Tarsus would have rejected St. Innocent of Alaska’s interpretation of John 6:44.

Imagine a church that had been crushed and repressed by militant Islam for centuries. Imagine a church that had been a victim of the crusades. Imagine a church that suffered under militant atheism in the form of Communism. Imagine a church whose people had suffered the brunt of Nazi aggression. Imagine if that church missed out on 19th century imperialism. Might that Church be a bit introverted and ethnic?

Yes, a church suffered all of this might be expected to be a bit introverted and ethnic.   But once those shackles are broken, growth should be expected.  Unfortunately, we’re seeing only the scantiest evidence of such growth, and mainly in here in the West from such Orthodox scholars as Fr. Patrick Reardon and David Bentley Hart.  They have been especially vocal about the visceral anti-Westernism of so many in the Orthodox world.

Imagine that you have a modern Patristic scholar from a non-Orthodox background. Perhaps he could be from an obscure background like a Lutheran of Slovak descent. If he was to spend a lifetime writing books and reading Patristic literature, what church would he join? Makes you wonder.

Oh, come now.  Some of such scholars (Pelikan) have read themselves into the Orthodox Church.  Others have read themselves into other churches.  I don’t know what the case of Jaroslav Pelikan is supposed to do for Orthodox claims.  Do you?  Really?

One of the great confusions during the Reformation was that the Reformers confused Augustinianism with the Tradition of the Church. Even the Roman Catholic Church never wholeheartedly committed themselves to the Augustinian understanding of grace, sin and predestination.

Well, that might be because all the Reformers were Augustinians primarily, and at THAT particular juncture in Christian history, Augustinianism was a powerful force in England and other places in Europe.  And as you know, the Reformers were primarily concerned with what was biblical – and hence apostolic – not with the Tradition of the Church as understood by either the Church of Rome or the Orthodox Churches.  For the Reformers, as for many of us modern Anglicans, Augustine and his school did a better job of exegetic the apostles on the issues of grace, predestination and election than did Fathers such as John Chrysostom, whose exegesis of Romans 9 completely inverts what Paul says in that chapter.

Looking at Jaroslav Pelikan's 'The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine' Volume 1 (1971), pages 292-307 I see that Pelikan points out and stresses the Neoplatonic influence on Augustine. On page 295 Pelikan quotes with approval Otto Scheel who says "Augustine's doctrine of grace is merely a consequence of his Neoplatonism and of the concept of God that emerges from this, in which the idea of absolute causality and omnipotence is raised to a position of greater important than the Father's love. " Pelikan, of course, brings up Augustine's use of a mistranslation of Romans 5:12 as a foundation of his doctrine of original sin. Page 299.
In his survey of sin and grace prior to Augustine under the heading 'The State of Christian Anthropology' (pages 279-292) Pelikan fails to mention the Stoics and their influence, probably because it isn't there.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, which have become standard Orthodox talking points.  But Pelikan is not the only church historian/historical theologian in town.  Many of the assessments of the influence of Neoplatonism in Augustine’s theology have been wildly overblown.  Even Orthodox theologian John Meyendorff admitted that Augustine’s predestinarianism is arguably more based on exegetical considerations than philosophical assumptions.

You've mentioned the 39 Articles a number of times on your blog as a good statement of Anglican doctrine. However, I've been told that Resolution 43 at the 1968 Lambeth conference made it no longer obligatory for the 39 Articles to be included in the Book of Common Prayer, for those being ordained to subscribe to it and that the articles can be understood in whatever way gives 'the full range of our inheritance of faith'.
What good is a statement of beliefs that you don't have to believe?

Yeah, many liberal and Anglo-Catholics have sought to undermine the Articles.  What else is new?  The Articles are Catholic and Augustinian and conservative, and so liberals don’t like them, and because they are Augustinian, Anglo-Catholics, most of whom have historically been flirting with Pelagianizing theologies, don’t like them either.   But for reasons I have set forth in a number of blog articles, the Articles constitute an excellent summary of the catholic and apostolic faith as understood by the Augustinian school.

April 13

Hi Embryo Parson,
I've been doing some homework on the Anglican tradition and came across an interesting document. You probably know it already. It is a letter by John Cosin (1594-1672), the bishop of Durham from 1660 to the Countess of Peterborough on the differences and similarities between Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism.
Cosin lists 14 differenes-
1) He can't accept that Rome is the Mother Church to all
2) He denies the universal jurisdiction of the Pope
3) He rejects the Council of Trent
4) He rejects that Christ instituted the 7 sacraments and that they are 'necessary to salvation'
5)He rejects the sacrifice of the mass
6) He rejects transubstantiation
7)He rejects communion in one kind
8)No Purgatory
9) No veneration and invocation of the saints
10) No relics
11) No Images
12)No Indulgences
13) No ceremonies like salt and spittle at baptism, christmation, adoration of the host, etc that he finds unbiblical
14) He rejects 'ecclesiastical observations' like celibate clergy, monastic vows, the immaculate conception, the assumption, the apocrypha, etc.

John Cosin also lists 14 agreements between the Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church. It is worth putting them down verbatim.
1.All the two and twenty canonical books of the Old Testament and the twenty seven of the New as the only foundation and perfect rule of our faith
2.All the apostolical and ancient Creeds especially those which are commonly called the Apostles Creed the Nicene Creed and the Creed of S Athanasius all which are clearly deduced out of the Scriptures
3.All the Decrees of faith and doctrine set forth as well in the first four general councils as in all other councils which those first four approved and confirmed and in the fifth and sixth general councils besides than which we find no more to be general and in all the following councils that be thereunto agreeable and in all the anathemas and condemnations given out by those councils against heretics for the defence of the Catholic Faith
4.The unanimous and general consent of the ancient Catholic Fathers and the universal Church of Christ in the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures and the collection of all necessary matters of Faith from them during the first six hundred years and downwards to our own days
5.In acknowledgment of the Bishop of Rome if he would rule and be ruled by the ancient canons of the Church to be the Patriarch of the West by right of ecclesiastical and imperial constitution in such places where the kings and governors of those places had received him and found it be hooveful for them to make use of his jurisdiction without any necessary dependence upon him by divine right
6.In the reception and use of the two blessed Sacraments of our Saviour in the confirmation of those persons that are to be strengthened in their Christian Faith by prayer and imposition of hands according to the examples of the holy Apostles and ancient Bishops of the Catholic Church in the public and solemn benediction of persons that are to be joined together in holy matrimony in public or private absolution of penitent sinners in the consecrating of Bishops and the ordaining of Priests and Deacons for the service of God in His Church by a lawful succession and in visiting the sick by praying for them and administering the blessed Sacrament to them together with a final absolution of them from their repented sins
7.In commemorating at the Eucharist the Sacrifice of Christ's Body and Blood once truly offered for us
8.In acknowledging His sacramental spiritual true and real Presence there to the souls of all them that come faithfully and devoutly to receive Him according to His own institution in that holy Sacrament
9.In giving thanks to God for them that are departed out of this life in the true Faith of Christ's Catholic Church and in praying to God that they may have a joyful resurrection and a perfect consummation of bliss both in their bodies and souls in His eternal kingdom of glory
10.In the historical and moderate use of painted and true stories either for memory or ornament where there is no danger to have them abused or worshipped with religious honour
11.In the use of indulgences or abating the rigour of the canons imposed upon offenders according to their repentance and their want of ability to undergo them
12.In the administration of the two Sacraments and other rites of the Church with ceremonies of decency and order according to the precept of the Apostle and the free practice of the ancient Christians
13.In observing such holy days and times of fasting as were in use in the first ages of the Church or afterwards received upon just grounds by public or lawful authority
14.Finally in the reception of all ecclesiastical constitutions and canons made for the ordering of our Church or others which are not repugnant either to the Word of God or the power of kings or the laws established by right authority any nation

I find two interesting things from this document. The first is the absence of the key '5 Point Calvinist' doctrines like total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace and perseverance of the saints. Obviously, Cosin does not view these as significant differences between the two churches.

Yes, Cosin was a Caroline (hence, Arminian) Divine.  Need I say more?

The second thing has to do with agreements 3 & 4 about the councils and fathers and how this contradicts his earlier list. Take for example the universal practice of the veneration of saints. No Church Father ever ever disagreed with it in either east nor west. Was it just wishful thinking on Cosin's part or did he overlook that part of the early churches (the catholic church) theology.
What are your thoughts?

Cosin’s musings notwithstanding, Anglicans venerate saints, so I’m at a loss to know what you’re getting at here.  Even Evangelical Anglicans generally observe their feast days, though they strongly object to venerating their images. 

I also read the Millenary Petition presented to James I by the Puritans. I had a good laugh. Apparently wedding rings are unbiblical and have to go!!

Anglicanism isn’t Puritanism, not never, not no how.  I would think that the Puritans themselves made that clear by their departure.   And even though we have some “Puritanizing” types still in our midst, they generally eschew the excesses of their forebears such as the one you mention here.

April 13: "Orthodoxy" This, and "Orthodoxy" That

Hi There,
This post has been bothering me so I'll make a comment. The criticism is rather petty. Orthodoxy recognises the legitimacy of the Christology of mainstream Protestants. After all they do claim to affirm the Council of Chalcedon. Even Protestant Trinitarian belief is ok ( except for the Filioque of course). The problem with Protestants lies in the areas of ecclesiology, sacraments, liturgy, aesthetics, etc. What people like Frederica Matthews-Green are doing is drawing attention to these deficiencies under the banner of 'Orthodoxy'. Since they aim their writings at a non-Orthodox Christian audience they like appropriately!

I would agree that Protestants have problems in the areas of ecclesiology, sacraments, liturgy, aesthetics, etc.  That’s one reason I’m an Anglican, because it was taken a more historically Catholic approach to these issues.  I don’t think the criticism is petty, however, for the reasons Dr. Nassif mentions.

On the other hand, many many evangelicals have denied my Christianity over the years. Yes, they keep on talking about Jesus to me despite the fact I've been a Christian for 45 years. These people view Russia and Eastern Europe as a missionary field that might as well be pagan according to them.

Yet another reason I am an Anglican.  I believe we are justified only by faith in Christ, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that one needs to believe in sola fide to be saved.

PS: not one, not two but three Baptists over the years, in very separate incidents, have asked me in all seriousness if Greeks still worship Zeus and the 12 gods. This is not a joke. This still happens.

They probably were misled by “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. ;)

Stefano, the foregoing notwithstanding, I want both you and my readers to know that I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Anglicanism’s place in the Catholic faith, and as a result I will be stressing its Catholic nature more in the future.  I don’t retract anything I’ve said about Anglicanism being a Protestant church, but it is not Protestant in the same senses that other Protestant churches are.  What’s more, if we Anglicans are to survive, I believe we – and that includes the Reformed and other Evangelicals in our midst  -- will need to start taking our catholicity much more seriously.  In so doing, we are going to be compelled to treat Roman Catholics and Orthodox as our friends.  And brothers.  What we will not be able to do, however, is to assimilate to either the Church of  Rome or Orthodoxy on Roman or Orthodox terms.  You all will need to listen to us as well.

Monday
Jun012015

Templars

These guys, the first one a commited Christian and the second one an American actor, are fighting ISIS.  A few days ago on Fox News, a condescending Bill O'Reilly interviewed another former member of the US Armed forces who was heading to Iraq to fight ISIS.   He tried to pass him off as quixotic and stupid.  But that young Templar is ten times the man O'Reilly and I are.  As are these two.

An ancient Templar chant in their honor.  May God protect them and grant them victory.  (Bernard of Clairvaux on the New Kinghthood.)

Monday
Jun012015

Staying Classy at Anglican Unscripted

In my previous entry, I commented on an episode of Anglican Unscripted (AU 180) in which commentators Kevin Kallsen and George Conger took the AMiA to task for somehow so effectively subverting the delicate state of affairs in the Anglican Church of the Congo as to illegally procure the recent consecrations of two AMiA bishops.

In their most recent video, Mr. Kallen and Fr. Conger preface the episode with two apologies, the first relating to a mistake Mr. Kallsen made on the story of the two gay men who sought to have their son baptized in Fr. Conger's diocese, and the second one from Fr. Conger relating to the aforementioned episode AU 180, which leads me to speculate that Fr. Conger has received some flak somewhere about it.  Here's the text from the pertinent section of the apologies, which begins at 2:01:

Kallsen: George also has a correction.

Conger: Yes, last week we talked about the AMiA as being a “Zombie”, and of course, we were mistaken in saying that.  A zombie, uh, Chuck Murphy’s not dead.   To be a zombie he has to be dead and then come alive, so he’s not a living dead,  so we, we were improper use of terms (sic) there, so we apologize there.

Kallsen: (Laughingly) My apology was serious, George, so you’re just getting us into more trouble.

Again, tsk.  Every idle word, gentlemen. 

A couple of related items:

1) Out of the blue, David Virtue sent me a friend request on Facebook, which I accepted.  Shortly thereafter, I sent him this message:

Hello, David. How did you come to my Facebook page, if you don't mind my asking?

Thus far I've received no response.  Now, I appreciate Virtue Online, and I agree with Mr. Virtue on many issues pertaining to the Continuing and Realignment movements, though I'm intrigued that (so it appears) he's a Baptist and not an Anglican.  But the timing of his request is very interesting, and I'm looking forward to his answer.  If I don't receive an answer, which would suggest to me that he may have desired access to my Facebook postings to see if I've commented there on this matter, which I haven't, I'll report back.

2) AMiA's Apostolic Vicar Philip Jones has sent a pastoral letter to all AMiA clergy explaining why Archbishop Isingoma's objections to the consecrations are mystifying in light of available communiques from him to his dioceses regarding the freedom they have, according to the constitutional norms of PEAC, to enter into the kind of concordats with AMiA requisite for the legality of the consecrations.  What's more, I have it on good authority that there is more where that came from.   Without a doubt, the contents of Bishop Jones' pastoral letter and possibly even the other evidence to which I allude here will make its way into the hands of Kallsen, Conger and Virtue, if it hasn't already.  If and when they do, I here solicit their public response.

Honestly, as I implied in my previous blog entry, I'm really not interested in trading barbs with critics of  AMiA in ACNA and elsewhere, but in moving past the old hostilities and coming together for the cause of the Gospel and the propagation of the Anglican Way.  If our Christian faith is about forgiveness, then all of us should be willing to let go not only of ecclesial offenses, real or imagined, but also perceived rivalries, and press forward from here as brothers in Christ.  This warfare has to end. 

Saturday
May162015

Two New Bishops Consecrated for the Anglican Mission in the Americas

On May 2 at St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Oviedo, Florida, the Very Rev. Gerald Lee Schnackenberg and the Very Rev. Carl Eugene Buffington, Jr. were consecrated as Bishop Emissaries for AMiA by the Rt. Rev. William Mugenyi of the Diocese of Boga, Anglican Church of the Congo, the Rt. Reverend Masimango Katanda of the Diocese of Kindu, Anglican Church of the Congo, and the Rt. Reverend Sospeter T. Ndenz, Diocese of Kibondo, Anglican Church of Tanzania.  A couple of years ago, then Fr. Gerry Schnackenberg gave his approval for me to enter into a discernment process for holy orders in AMiA, so for me personally his consecration is very poignant.  Congratulations to Bishops Schnackenberg and Buffington, and may God richly bless their ministry among us and to a world in dire need of the Gospel.  As the Orthodox would say at the consecration of a bishop, "Axios!"

Unfortunately, the joy of the consecrations has been somewhat dampered by the re-ignition of the ACNA's old hostility toward AMiA, which we had hoped would be laid to rest after Archbishop Duncan's concilatory gestures toward AMiA last year.  The renewed hostility stems from a dust-up between the Primate of the Anglican Church of the Congo and the two consecrating bishops from that province over the consecrations, and certain folks deemed journalists in conservative Anglican circles are leveraging the dust-up in the Congolese church in order to score rhetorical points.  A particularly uncharitable display can be seen in May 13 episode of "Anglican Unscripted", which was given the lovely title, "The Mission's Zombies", featuring this caption: "The Mission is not dead yet. . .booh!"  

If this kind of puerility weren't enough to highlight the contempt for AMiA held by some in ACNA, the snarky content of the video dispels all doubt, as does the rapidity with which  the principals at Anglican TV rushed to judgment in taping and publishing this video.  They apparently did so without having heard "all sides of this story", as Fr. Conger acknowledges at 12:56 of the video.  Tsk.  If that weren't enough, it seems Mr. Kallsen and Fr. Conger take no thought whatsoever about how this kind of careless and self-congratulatory commentary scandalizes and hurts many of the faithful, not only in AMiA, but even in their own provinces. 

Predictably, ACNA news gatherer and commentator David Virtue also chimed in on all this.  I left a comment at that discussion and provided a reference to a text from the Book of Acts for everyone's consideration.  It reads as follows:

When (the Pharisees) heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill (the apostles). But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while.  And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men.  For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing.   After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered.  So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God.”  (Emphasis mine.)

Here in Colorado, the Colorado Anglican Society is seeking to transcend the old feud and work together for the cause of Anglican unity-in-diversity and the proclamation of the Gospel.   The Society's board is composed of clergy from ACNA, PEARUSA, and AMiA.  An example of what the Holy Spirit can do, provided we don't quench Him.

Now, I am just a simple deacon with little knowledge of or interest in the workings of bishops, including my own.  My chief concern is my diaconal ministry to the saints and to the suffering, not the messy and oftentimes sinful world of church politics, so you'll have to forgive me if this blog entry reflects a certain naïveté.  That being said, I think we as orthodox Anglicans in the process of realignment could spare ourselves -- and more importantly, our churches -- a lot of grief by adopting the Gamaliel Principle.  You would think that Anglicans might have learned that lesson from the tragic case of John Wesley. 

Unless, that is, it does turn out to be the case that Anglicanism is merely "about form and function", as Mr. Kallsen avers at 13:40 at the video.  Just ponder the implications of that statement, however, from a pneumatological point of view.

Sunday
Apr192015

Three Articles Worth Reading

Peter Vermigli on Episcopacy, from the Calvinist International.

Leaving home: The Future of the Faith in England, by Gavin Ashenden, a priest who left the Church of England for the Realignment.

The Faith of My Father, a former Baptist and now Anglican in response to a piece by Al Mohler.

Friday
Apr102015

For My Friend Stefano

Monday
Apr062015

An Anglo-Catholic Priest Emails Me Regarding the Thirty-Nine Articles

He writes,

Subject: 39 Articles of Religion
Message: From The Rev. Vernon Staley on the 39 Articles of Religion:

Many years ago for my catechism my priest used four books with us:  The Bible, the BCP, Wilson's "Faith and Practice," and Staley's "The Catholic Religion."  We are not Congegational or  Confessional.  We are Credal. The 39 AR makes us sound like we have a Confession.  The statements are the remnant of the Via Media of Eliz I.  I still read from TCR nearly weekly.  Here is what Fr. Staley had to say about the Articles of Religion:

The Catholic Religion

A MANUAL OF INSTRUCTION
FOR MEMBERS OF THE
Anglican Church
11th Edition, A.D. 1900

By The Reverend Vernon Staley

Part Fourth
APPENDIX

CHAPTER I, THE XXXIX ARTICLES, page 383-384

The Thirty-nine Articles are not Articles of Faith like the Creeds, and they are not imposed on members of the Anglican Church as necessary terms of communion.  The clergy only subscribe them, and the sense in which the subscription is understood, has been stated by Archbishop Bramhall as follows; “We do not hold our Thirty-nine Articles to be such necessary truths, ‘without which there is no salvation;’ nor enjoin ecclesiastic persons to swear unto them, but only to subscribe them, as theological truths, for the preservation of unity among us.  Some of them are the very same that are contained in the Creed; some others of them are practical truths, which come not within the proper list of points or articles to be believed; lastly, some of them are pious opinions or inferior truths which are proposed by the Church of England as not to be opposed; not as essentials of Faith necessary to be believed.” (1)  Bishop Bull wrote similarly, “The Church of England professeth not to deliver all her Articles as essentials of faith, without the belief whereof no man can be saved; but only propounds them as a body of safe and pious principles, for the preservation of peace to be subscribed, and not openly contradicted by her sons.  And, therefore, she requires subscription to them only from the clergy, and not from the laity.” (2)

“The Articles are to be subscribed to in the sense intended by those whose authority makes the subscription requisite.” (3)  It must always be remembered that the same Convocation, in the same set of Canons which first required subscription to the Articles, in 1571, enjoined that preachers should only teach “that which is agreeable to the doctrine of the Old and New Testaments, and that  which the Catholic fathers and ancient bishops have collected out of the same doctrine.”  “It seems” says Mr. Keble, “no violent inference, that the appointed measure of doctrine preached, was also intended to be the measure of doctrine delivered in the way of explanation of doubtful passages in formularies.” (4)


It is quite evident, therefore, that the Articles would be understood by the clergy who first subscribed them as Articles of Peace for the preservation of unity.  They were not religious tests, or Articles of Faith; they were made as comprehensive as possible, and they were to be interpreted and understood in accordance with the general rule of Catholic tradition, i.e., in the Catholic sense. (5)

(1)    Works, vol. ii, pp.201, 476.
(2)    A Vindication of the Church of England,  xxvii.
(3)    Keble’s Catholic Subscription to the xxxix. Articles, p. 13.
(4)    Ibid., p. 15.
(5)    “I understand by the Catholic sense, that sense which is most conformable to the ancient rule,  ‘Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab amnibus.’” Ibid., p. 14.

Well, during my catechesis in the Anglican Catholic Church, I also read Staley's work, but as any number of posts here at OJC on the matter of Anglican formularies would show my reader, I eventally concluded that the typical Anglo-Catholic take on the Articles, as represented by Staley in this passage, begs the essential question as to the Articles' confessional status (and which is one of the reasons I left the ACC).  Most Anglo-Catholics say things to the effect of "we are not confessional, but credal."  The English Reformers, most Old High Churchman and Evangelical Anglicans say, "Not so.  We are both confessional and credal."  So there we are.  J.I. Packer, for instance, argues that the Articles are every bit as credal as the Nicene Creed.  Conversely, both are confessional documents.  The only Anglicans who deny that Anglicanism is a confessional faith are liberal and Anglo-Catholic revisionists.

Bishop H. Hensley Henson, no Evangelical he, had this to say about the Articles:

The raison d’etre of subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles is the necessity, in a divided Christendom, of agreeing on a version of the Catholic Faith. In the Articles we have the Anglican version of the Catholic tradition of Faith and Discipline. It is not open to any loyal Anglican to form any other.

Alike for negotiations with other branches of the Church, and for the instruction of its own members, some authoritative statement of specifically Anglican teaching and practice is really indispensable. Such an authoritative statement is provided by the Thirty-nine Articles, and, if they were abandoned, it would be necessary to provide a substitute.

So long as the Christian society is divided on issues so fundamental as to transcend even the interest of visible unity, separate Churches must exist, and must show cause for doing so. It would be manifestly intolerable that men should be authorized to minister as officers and teachers who did not assent to the doctrine and discipline of the Church which commissioned them. It would be not less intolerable if the parishioners were to possess no security against mere individualism on the part of the clergy. Therefore it seems to follow that Subscription is really indispensable, as well for the protection of the people as for the security of the Church.

When, however, we pass from theoretical considerations to the actual situation in the Church of England at the present time, we are confronted by a strange spectacle of doctrinal confusion which demonstrates the failure of Subscription to secure either of the two objects for which presumably it was designed. It does not provide any effective guarantee of the doctrinal soundness of the subscribing clergy, and it does not protect the people from heretical parsons. The Church of England, at the present time, exhibits a doctrinal incoherence which has no parallel in any other church claiming to be traditionally orthodox.  (The Church of England, pp.107 ff.)

I believe Henson hit the nail on the head with everything he said here: Anglicanism, as a local manifestation of the Catholic Church that agreed in the 16th century with the need for reform, sets forth authoritatively the Anglican understanding of the Catholic faith as expressed in the Articles, and, if they are to be abandoned, something else needs to take their place.  To the Anglo-Catholic, what needs to take their place is an unreformed Catholicism that purportedly bears the same character as the undivided church of the first millennium.  However, not every Anglican is on board with that agenda, so when my reader refers to "we" ("we are not confessional"), I must ask straightaway, "what's this 'we' $#*!"? ;)

Henson is also on the mark on how the abandonment of the Articles by liberals and Anglo-Catholics has led to the present state of doctrinal chaos in Anglicanism, and Anglican theologians such as Packer and Gillis Harp have argued that re-embracing the Articles, indeed read in a Catholic manner but WITHOUT washing out their Augustinian and Reformed content, can help to eliminate the doctrinal chaos that has long plagued our church.  At least Staley, unlike many AC's believed that Anglican clergy were required "to subscribe them, as theological truths, for the preservation of unity among us." (Emphasis mine.)

Sunday
Apr052015

Who Knew?

"I see Katherine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, has said that we climate deniers are 'sinful'. Who knew the Episcopal Church still had sins?" - Mark Steyn

Wednesday
Apr012015

From J.I. Packer

It is important to know who our friends are. Anglo-Catholics generally believe in Trinity, Scripture, atonement, resurrection, judgement, prayer, etc. A ‘higher’ view of sacraments and priesthood seems secondary in the light of those primary correspondences. I can be friends with Anglo-Catholics. Modern Anglo-Catholicism has a different agenda from in the past. I can, with qualifications, be friends with Anglo-Catholics. I have good will towards Forward in Faith. Liberals are different, denying many of the aforementioned. We have let Liberals get away with too much with regard to leadership in the past.

Quoted here.